SOLAR PANEL CARPORTS in the parking
lots are configured with a 1.2-megawatt
solar PV system.
How a School District Cut
62 Percent in Energy Spending
IMPROVEMENTS INCLUDE A BIOMASS BOILER
AND SOLAR PANEL CARPORTS
Look at Environment
To create the correct environment, Trane
first conducted an audit on the existing
buildings. The areas that needed the biggest
n HVAC systems and controls
n Classroom unit ventilators
n Electrical systems
“The level of our facilities — we were
in dire straits,” says Catherine Antonellis,
business manager of DRRSD. “Much of our
five buildings did not have any compatible
equipment. Each operating system was
operating with different boilers. We had
Now, the five buildings are operating
efficiently with things like a biomass boiler,
solar-paneled carports and new roofs and
“You take a look at the buildings now, in
addition to being more efficient, it’s a significant aesthetic upgrade,” says Chris Marshall,
comprehensive solutions general manager
Selected upgrades includes:
n Insulated thermal windows: “They make
the building feel better since they leak less
air and heat,” Marshall explains. The old
windows had foggy glass and corroded
n New roofs for two schools
n Digital building automation system
n New HVAC equipment: Includes rooftop
units and 128 classroom unit ventilators.
n A biomass boiler: In the high school, a
biomass boiler uses wood chips instead
of oil to heat a majority of the facility as
opposed to oil. “Wood fuel costs less than
half of oil,” McNeil says. “There’s also the
environmental benefits, since it’s consid-
ered a carbon-neutral fuel.”
n Solar PV system: A 1.2-megawatt solar PV
system was installed via carport canopies
in the parking lots of the five schools. The
district now makes 75 percent of the elec-
tricity it needs to function each year. Each
carport is also lit with LED lights at night,
which creates a better sense of safety.
A building management system from Trane
also provides the district’s facilities managers
with a wide view of the buildings for daily
operations, troubleshooting and energy management. They can access systems remotely
using a mobile device to address comfort
issues, make scheduled changes, adjust set
points and manage alarms.
The results include fewer hot/cold calls
and improved indoor air quality.
The students can get involved as well.
The lobbies of each of the five schools are
equipped with flat-screen TV monitors that
display real-time solar generation data.
“It shows what’s being produced at
that school and districtwide, and how that
equates to trees, cars off the road, that sort
of thing,” Marshall explains. “Each screen
is geared toward the age group that it’s in.
So an elementary school obviously has a
different level of presentation than the high
Students have even created scale models
of the solar panels. “There’s a lot of commu-
nity engagement there,” Marshall continues.
“That K- 12 sector, they really do want to
make our projects part of the curriculum and
Sarah Kloepple (sarah.kloepple@buildings.
com) is a staff writer for BUILDINGS.
What if you could cut your energy spending by more than half? And, in turn, your savings could pay
for the facilities upgrades needed to create
them? This is what’s on track to happen at
Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District
(DRRSD) in Massachusetts.
The district comprises five buildings: a
high school, two middle schools and two elementary schools. By the end of 2018, these
buildings have undergone and completed
a three-year districtwide energy upgrade
project—one that will reduce their cumulative
energy spending by 62 percent.
“In a quick conversation with the facility
director and business manager, we found out
what they basically had — like what a lot of
public schools have — was limited capital and
aging infrastructure,” says Leo McNeil, regional
director of comprehensive solutions at Trane,
an HVAC systems and controls manufacturer.
Through performance contracting, Trane
was able to guide DRRSD through a comprehensive facilities upgrade, where a single
provider develops, designs and implements
facility improvements to be paid in whole or
in part through guaranteed energy savings.
“[The district] would replace a boiler
whenever they could come up with
the money to do it. It was a piecemeal
approach,” McNeil adds. “It didn’t produce
the results that the district ultimately wanted,
which was a good, comfortable and efficient